Oculus Quest — a review from Beat Saber player’s perspective

I updated this review after resolving initial issues with tracking.

The gist:

  • You’ll definitely like Quest for its mobility, noticeably better display, and amazingly simple setup in any place you go
  • Beat Saber on Expert+ levels is actually quite playable. The only lack I noticed there is its 72 Hz frame rate: 90 Hz on Rift and Vive feel noticeably smoother.
  • All in all, Quest definitely worth the money.

Now, some details. I own both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive for almost 1 year now. Earlier I used Samsung HMD Odyssey as well (wrote a review of it earlier), but ended up switching mostly to Rift because of a single reason: the only VR game I was actually playing was Beat Saber — in fact, it became my almost daily fitness routine. So, Odyssey is a very good option when you start playing it, but the further you go, the more obvious it becomes Windows Mixed Reality inside-out tracking is neither accurate nor fast enough for Beat Saber. And Oculus Rift won even over Vive in this sense — Rift with 3 sensors is nearly as accurate as Vive, but the latency there is nearly zero; as for Vive, I feel the latency there on any fast-paced hit sequence like this or that one; in addition to that, Vive controllers are bulky, heavier, and harder to balance no matter what grip you choose.

So what do you feel playing Beat Saber in Oculus Quest?

  • Quest definitely wins on the resolution, though frankly, this is totally not important for Beat Saber, esp. in game.
  • Visually Beat Saber looks worse / less natural in Quest: e.g. walls there aren’t transparent, there are no reflections, space distortions, etc.; the GPU Quest has obviously isn’t on par with the modern graphics cards, so Beat Saber sacrifices all fancy visual stuff to push through 72 frames per second.
  • Quest’s inside-out tracking is nearly perfect: the latency feels somewhere in between Rift (i.e. zero) and Vive (a few ms); accuracy is very close to both — I noticed it loses tracking probably once per 3 songs or so, which is on par with 3-sensor Rift setup (in my experience it loses tracking~ once per 30 minutes of play). Originally I wrote it’s noticeably worse than for Rift — it was clearly a mistake. It seems my monitor (I use 42" TV as a monitor) displaying nearly white web page was making all the difference. I was pretty astonished by the difference after turning it off completely.
  • Finally, the frame rate: 72 frames per second is on the borderline for Beat Saber. The difference with Oculus Rift and Vive is absolutely noticeable, and frankly, sometimes it’s almost like comparing 30 FPS video vs 60 FPS video. 72 FPS look very smooth if nothing moves super quickly, but that’s not the case with Beat Saber: the cubes are moving straight into your face there. Moreover, if you don’t use “Reduce Debris” option, the frame rate noticeably drops when you split a few cubes — i.e. you better keep this option turned on.

All in all, Quest is actually a good option for Beat Saber. Yes, it’s inferior to Rift, Vive, and Vive Pro — but not by a lot. I noticed I can’t make it through a few songs on Quest I normally complete on Rift — mostly the extremely fast-paced ones. Other than that, Beat Saber there is absolutely playable; moreover, you already can upload custom songs there.

Besides that, Quest is likely a #1 option for anyone who wants to try VR nowdays:

  • The screen is good — even despite some light bleeding, God rays, and ghosting. Watching movies in a virtual cinema is definitely something I’ll use it for; Rift and Vive aren’t good enough for that.
  • Sound is nearly perfect. The fact you don’t need to put on the headphones is, frankly, amazing — especially for VR, where you typically want to hear what’s going on in a real world as well. The speakers there are hidden inside the head strap, so you won’t be able to even find them — but despite that, you hear a very deep “surround” sound projected right into your ear, though everyone else doesn’t. Black magic!
  • The visuals in other games / apps are also pretty good — not as good as you’d get with GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and tethered PC headsets, of course, but still, the picture never looks ugly there. Or maybe just sometimes.
  • Controllers: IMO Rift / Oculus Touch controllers are ergonomically better, but Quest controllers aren’t bad at all; and they’re better than anything else but Oculus Touch.
  • Tracking is on par with the best possible setup available nowdays (Rift with 3 sensors)— i.e. nearly perfect, and that’s without any external sensors.
  • The simplicity of setup is incredible. I also was quite surprised seeing it recognizes locations where I played earlier and offers to use the guardian boundary I drew there.
  • The only negative thing I’ve noticed is its weight. Yes, it’s noticeably heavier — and this makes you to pull its head straps tighter to make sure it stays in place, which eventually makes you feel the discomfort caused by extra pressure. I wish Oculus constructed it at least more balanced — e.g. with maybe batteries on the back of the head strap or do something similar.

So if you don’t have a PC with some good graphics card, Quest definitely worth the money. Moreover, it worth the money even if you do — watching movies on any trip in your own cinema is incredible; playing games like Beat Saber anywhere you go is like having a fitness center in your pocket. You didn’t know that? Check out this and that video :)

P.S. I suspect I won’t be buying Oculus Rift S: since it’s mostly about Beat Saber for me, the upgrade Rift doesn’t worth it (mostly due to its 80 Hz frame rate); waiting for Valve Index with its 120 … 144 Hz displays seems more reasonable. But if you’re buying a new tethered headset, I’d at least check out Rift S.